Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas was a little different this year...

I made the mistake of saying to our girls that this Christmas would have been the 2nd one in my life without family, and Betsy asked how Steve felt, after 36 years, he wasn't family...
So, we didn't have any others in our house. Last year our home was bursting with family and friends so I was anticipating a quiet time.
In many ways it was quiet. In some ways I liked it. I wasn't planning so much that the season slipped by with no reflection of the what this birth of the Christ child meant in my life. Quiet reflection was very much a part of my Christmas season.

On Christmas Eve, Steve and I had friends over for brunch. Usually our Christmas Eve brunch is leisurely and our guests love staying...we knew in advance that it would be a morning brunch. They came at 9 am and Barb had to work at 11 and we had to be at church by 12 so by 10:50 after several attempts at a timer shot picture, they left and we went to church.
I helped out with the greeter/usher team for the 1 and 3 services and missed the service completely. Right after the service we headed to Bellevue for the Snowflake Lane lights and drum-line. There were all kinds of characters walking the streets before the drum line took their positions next to the decorations on the street and put on a show. There was music and then at one point, snow started falling...not real snow...soap bubbles that made it look like we were standing in a heavy, Christmas-like, White Christmasy snow. It was so pretty.

A leisurely dinner outside on the patio of the Cheese Cake Factory.
I had heard that the Bellevue Botanical Gardens had a light display so after dinner, we went to the Botanical Gardens. The lights were so beautiful. They were in the shape of all kinds of vegetation and creatures.

The aquarium was amazing...

We drove home after our adventure and decided to open our gifts in the morning.

Christmas morning was relaxing and a time for coffee and quiet. At 3:00 we had friends who were also alone for Christmas day over and we began a progressive dinner at our house with appetizers and onion soup. After that, we had dinner at another couple's home and then progressed to our final sugar destination.

We missed our kids and our grandkids very much. But the days were quiet and our activities were new. However, in talking to Jane over the past days...they are thinking that they will be out here for Christmas next year...Once in a while it's okay for just a small portion of our family, but I do love being with our girls and their families.

What ever you did, I pray that you allowed yourself a time of quiet reflection of what the celebration of the Christ child means to you and what this birth meant to the world and the changes that have been made because of His coming. God bless us everyone....

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas...Christmas Eve Very Early

It's Christmas eve...
It is very early...
Today will bring so many "things" that will demand our attentions...
At least that is what will happen in my life!
I could tick off the list right now...
Right now, I want to pause and worship!
Today is the beginning of our remembrance of the birth of Christ.
Born in that lowly manger, the baby, Jesus, was totally reliant on his mother.
I think of our granddaughter, Emma, right now. She can't do anything without the help from Jane and Andy (and anyone who can get their hands on her*.)
She is helpless. I think of her and realize that my Savior was that reliant on Mary and Joseph.
He needed Mary's nurturing. He needed the strength taught to him by his earthly father Joseph.
But think...He was God...He is God...He will always be God.
He submitted himself to the will of His Father to come to earth.
He went through all of the feelings and emotions as we have had or will have.
As He grew...what must His life have been like.
Did He break His foot like Simon did?
Did He love to dance like Mazie?
Did He spin stories like Jane?
Was He serious and compliant like Betsy?
Did He preach when He was 3 like Steve did?
Was He belligerent like me?
The questions could go on and on...and yet, in the very early hours of Christmas Eve, 2010, I like to think...He did...why?
I know that whatever I bring to Him in the form of prayer requests, struggles, and praises He can and does struggle, cry, and laugh with me.
There is nothing that I go through, save sin, that He doesn't understand.
But back to the stable...
Back to the smelly animals...
Back to the noises of the city and the barn...
Back to the fears of a teenage mother...
Back to the the city of Bethlehem...
Jesus is born!
Stop and reflect on what that means to you on this day!
Merry Christmas
*I would love to get my hands on her!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas ponderings....

This morning I was looking for something to read to the usher/greeter team. I was drawn to Isaiah 9:

For a child is born to us,

a son is given to us.

The government will rest upon His shoulders.

And he will be called:

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

His government and his peace

will never end

He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David

for all eternity.

Then I picked up one of our favorite family books The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. I read the last chapter...the one where the Herdmans "disrupt" the church's Christmas program. Emogene and Ralph who are playing Mary and Joseph look like refugees. Emogene has the nerve to burp the baby before she put him in the manger and was carrying him on her shoulder instead of cradling the Baby Jesus in her arms.

(If you haven't read this is a must read...even if you are an adult...)

It got me thinking! The Prince of Peace and Everlasting Father; the One who will rule to the end of the age and for eternity...born in a smelly stable. Our Christmas cards that we send have beautiful pictures of Mary, with a holy light shining around her. The animals are around the stable and are wearing Christmas holly and are being attentive to the new born baby. What we don't see or smell is what the stable was really like.

A teenage girl and her husband had just traveled to Bethlehem. The probably did look like refugees. The starched and light blue gown pictured on our cards was most likely a dirty, dusty travel dress. She was tired and in pain. They must have felt lost and unloved because there was no other place for them to stay in the city.

Do you think she was questioning God? An angel had come months earlier...she was chosen to give birth to the Messiah. She was in labor. She was in a barn. A smelly barn surrounded by smelly, dirty animals. When her baby was born, did she wonder where she would put him? in the food trough? Did she wish she had somewhere else to place the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? What were the thoughts that she had pondered in her heart when the shepherds came to worship Jesus?

So into a smelly barn, Jesus was born. He was helpless. He was dependant on His mother for food and comfort. He needed to be burped and his swaddling clothes needed to be changed. It is this baby who became our Savior. Our picture of Christ is different than the reality; but the reality is that this Baby in the manger is our Christ.

It seems that as this week progresses...we need to remember that birth. Carve out some time this week to focus on Jesus. Let Him be the peace in your Christmas and step away from the busyness of the mall and the bustle of events and worship Him for what He has done in your life this year.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Another Christmas tradition

Every year Moles Funeral Home staff and families go to an assisted living facility to carol. We sing several songs. Sometimes the residents sing along other times they listen.
I always begin the night by telling the residents that we are NOT good. We can make great noise, but we are not professional. Steve Hortegas, our piano playing extraordinaire, reminds them that we practice once a year and that coincides with our performance.
But we have fun and so do the residents. Last night was particularly fun. We had a large crowd of residents and they loved to sing.
For the past 3 years we have had the privilege of having Santa and Mrs. Claus join us. The residents love this couple and so do we. Santa is a gentle Santa and Mrs. Claus is just so sweet. Santa comes during the singing and stays for the staff Christmas party afterwards. They donate their time playing Santa. Any money that they get, they give to the Ferndale Food Pantry.
They add so much fun to our carolling.
Last night, (and I am bummed that I don't have pictures of this) one of the staff members, Marlys, brought her Christmas hula hoop and keep that hoop moving through an entire song...I was totally impressed.

This year, we caught Mrs. Claus kissing Santa Claus outside the home in the gazebo. Santa looks quite surprised...Maybe she doesn't do that all the time like the song says....

When we moved to Ferndale, our first Christmas carolling was 12 months after we moved. I had to wonder (and Jane readily points out...) why a funeral home would sing at an assisted living. Last night I explained to the residents that it is a time that I cherish. I love this night and it has become a tradition to which I look forward.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Lemon Bear and Jane....

Once upon a time...there was a little girl named Jane who loved a special bear. Lemon Bear was given to any child who was in the hospital and Jane's sister, Betsy had been in the hospital. She got a Lemon Bear. It didn't take long before Lemon Bear became a favorite of her baby sister. Jane loved the velvety feel of the bear and by the time she was 5, Lemon Bear looked pretty sad. His legs were hanging on, he had no "feelie" on him, and his eye was gone.

Jane decided that she should ask Santa to put new clothes on LB. So she wrote the note to Santa and I began scrambling to find another Lemon Bear. I found out who donated them (a bank), went to the bank and explained why I needed a Lemon Bear, and they found one Lemon Bear and gave it to me. [Remember this bear was given away 4 years earlier so it was no small feat to find this bear.] So the switch was made. On Christmas eve, 1986, Santa "dressed" Lemon Bear and Jane was thrilled. Jane has told the story for many years...and I know that she had never thought about what the real story was!

In 1986, I put Old Lemon Bear in a box and waited. I waited. I waited. You see, I could hardly wait to give Lemon Bear to Jane when she had her first child. Well, Emma was born on October 28, 2010 so Old Lemon Bear, New Lemon Bear, and "Surprise" Lemon Bear needed to come out.

I wrapped Old Lemon Bear along with New and Surprise LB and a bear from the Build-a-Bear Workshop all traveled to North Dakota.

Jane opened the box and saw New Lemon Bear and said...oh, LB doesn't look so bad. I thought that he would look worse... Then she unwrapped Old Lemon Bear and said, oh he does look bad...he doesn't have an eye and he really doesn't have any fur does he?

It was exciting to see Jane's face. It will be a memory that I cherish. It is something that I have waited for a long time. Surprise Lemon Bear will be Emma's bear. You see, when Jane was in gymnastics and I was talking to one of the moms. I was telling her about the Lemon Bear dilemma. She said, oh, I have one at home...I'll bring that is how we got a Lemon Bear for Emma.

Throughout the years I have taken these bears out of the boxes that they were stored. I prayed for the child that would bring out the bears. Emma was born 4 weeks early. She is a beautiful little girl. She now has her own Lemon Bear...wonder if this little girl will love LB as much as the little girl who fell in love with OLD LB once upon a time....

Christmas Memories.... usually means that you look back at past events or times that cause you to remember things that can be triggered by smells, sounds, and people...for this Christmas, it will take on a bit of a different definition....

I realized yesterday that I do certain things to make memories. Some of the "memories" become traditions, other memories are a fleeting second that will stay in my memory for a long while. I love trying to make a memory of events. I want to remember the events that create that pleasant sensation that makes you smile down the road...

Christmas seems to bring out the traditions and making memories in many of us. A family moment, a time with friends, traditions that are non-negotiable, first time events that just need to be repeated... For this month, I want to talk about some of the memories that I am making...a continued tradition? I don't know...